No brie boycott: French goods still moving locally

With the anti-French sentiment that's been sweeping the nation since U.N. talks broke down, local vendors of French goods have been on heightened alert would Charlottesvillians swap camembert for Kraft?

The answer, it seems, is no.

Though the mayor of Charlottesville's French sister city, Besancon, cancelled a planned April visit to this country because of global tension, locals still favor fromage, with Mayor Blake Caravati leading the charge.

"I'm still eating stinky French Cheese and will continue eating stinky French cheese," Caravati told the Progress earlier this week.

Suzannah Kerr, manager of gourmet food emporium Feast! in the Main Street Market, says a few customers have asked if other people have stopped eating French cheese, but she says her store hasn't seen a decline in sales.

Jose DeBrito, French-born owner of Ciboulette (French for chive), also in the Main Street Market, says, "I have a feeling that since the war has started, business is a little bit slower." Fortunately, he explains, he has a "core of Francophile" customers.

One tourist, DeBrito says, realized that he was in a French-owned establishment. "I'm in the wrong place," DeBrito recalls the man saying as he retreated toward the street.

When faced with recent inquiries regarding his motherland, DeBrito says his answer is simple. "I don't do politics," he laughs. "I do local business."

But Robert Harllee, owner of the Market Street Wineshop, says that while he hasn't seen French wine sales decline ("This is Charlottesville, after all") he has a quick and harsh– response ready for someone with an anti-French attitude.

"The whole 'Freedom fries' thing is ludicrous," Harllee says. "I would just ask, 'Have you stopped putting Iraqi oil in your SUV?'"